China's past on coronavirus comes back to haunt it

New DelhiEdited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: May 11, 2021, 11:59 AM IST
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File image: Chinese President Xi Jinping Photograph:(Reuters)

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This time it has come in the form of a book

China, the home country of the Wuhan virus, is trying to leverage the crisis in India. It called a meeting of South Asian foreign ministers and extended a last-minute invitation to India.

India did not attend but China's intentions were clear. With India firefighting at home, China wanted to step into India's role as the chief vaccine supplier to the region.

China has been trying to do that while promising more doses to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

And that's not all, China has also sent aid to India. Something that India did not ask for.

Oxygen concentrators, ventilators and medical supplies have come from China via the Red Cross.

The motive is not lost on anyone. This is not aid. This is China trying to portray itself as the saviour after unleashing a pandemic on the world. Beijing may want the world to forget about its cover-up. But the past keeps catching up with them.

This time it comes in the form of a book.

A book that reveals what China wanted to do with coronaviruses. The Chinese military was studying if these viruses can be used as a weapon in the future. This was five years before the pandemic began.

Chinese military scientists wrote a paper. It predicted a third world war or more specifically, a war where viruses will serve as a bio-weapon. This report was published by The Australian. The journalist behind it has written a book on the origins of the pandemic.

This report is a teaser for the book. It only talks about the paper written by Chinese military scientists.

Scientists from the People's Liberation Army (PLA), and senior public health officials wrote the paper. It said SARS coronaviruses are "heralding a new era of genetic weapons". Weapons that can be artificially manipulated into a virus and later weaponised and unleashed in a way "Never seen before".

This was written five years ago.

Chinese military predicting how coronaviruses can be used as weapons, this can normally be termed as mere scientific observations. But considering it's the Chinese army, things assume different dimensions.

For the US, these revelations were deeply disturbing. They found this document while investigating the origins of the virus. Even lawmakers in the UK and Australia are concerned.

The chairmen of the British and Australian foreign affairs and intelligence committees have issued a statement. They say that the Chinese paper raises major concerns about Beijing's lack of transparency over the origins of the Wuhan virus. These claims have essentially revived all the theories around the Wuhan lab and the claim that the virus has leaked from a laboratory.

This paper itself makes no mention of Covid-19 or the Wuhan virus. It talks about coronaviruses in general, the large family of viruses ranging from common cold to SARS. The Wuhan virus is part of this family of viruses. So far, there is no clear evidence that conclusively proves that the Wuhan virus leaked from a lab accidentally or intentionally.

However, Dr Tedros, chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) hasn't dismissed this theory. He wants more investigation into this angle. Even with his compromised credentials, he has not been able to dismiss the lab theory.

So here's a question, was China thinking about building a coronavirus weapon? Experts remain suspicious about Beijing's intentions, and this is the reason why. They are concerned about the high-risk nature of Chinese research into coronaviruses. Especially the studies being conducted by scientists in Wuhan.

The infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology was allegedly conducting a "Gain of function" research. In this research, scientists create new viruses that could be more transmissible and lethal. So they were creating new variants that spread and killed faster.

Peter Jennings, Executive Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, has raised a red flag. He believes that under President Xi Jinping, there is a growing collaboration between civilian researchers and the military, a collaboration that could potentially lead to weaponisation of biological research. A collaboration that the Wuhan lab was allegedly conducting.

What does China have to say about these latest revelations?

Beijing deployed the Global Times to respond. It called this report an attempt to twist facts. China continues to deny reports, browbeat critics and whitewash evidence. But the lab theory is not going away. Every new claim, every new revelation, only adds more fuel to the fire. 

It keeps bringing us back to the same question. What is China trying to hide about the origins of this pandemic?